Friday, May 27, 2011
It's not the end of the world,
Maybe your world or
Mine, but let's face it,
Every second, someone's
Get used to it.
He follows us, he keeps track.
Each day his lists are longer.
Here, death. And here,
something like it.
Mr. Fear we say in our dreams,
what do you have for me tonight?
And he looks through his sack,
his black sack of troubles.
Maybe he smiles when he finds
the right one. Maybe he's sorry.
Tell me, Mr. Fear,
what must I carry
away from your dream?
Make it small please.
Let it fit in my pocket,
let if fall through
the hole in my pocket.
Fear let me have
a small brown bat
and a purse of crickets
like the ones I heard
singing last night
out there in the stubbly field
before I slept, and met you.
at 6:18 AM
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Carol Mcleod's "Speculation
That's the character who makes a brief appearance in Something Wicked This
Way Comes, right? And you've often spoken of a real-life Mr. Electrico,
though no scholar has ever been able to confirm his existence. The story has
taken on a kind of mythic stature-the director of the Center for Ray Bradbury
Studies calls the search for Mr. Electrico the "Holy Grail" of Bradbury
Yes, but he was a real man. That was his real name. Circuses and carnivals
were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love
with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old,
the Dill Brothers Combined Shows came to town. One of the performers was Mr.
Electrico. He sat in an electric chair. A stagehand pulled a switch and he
was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed
in his eyes and his hair stood on end.
The next day, I had to go the funeral of one of my favorite uncles. Driving
back from the graveyard with my family, I looked down the hill toward the
shoreline of Lake Michigan and I saw the tents and the flags of the carnival
and I said to my father, Stop the car. He said, What do you mean? And I said,
I have to get out. My father was furious with me. He expected me to stay with
the family to mourn, but I got out of the car anyway and I ran down the hill
toward the carnival.
It didn't occur to me at the time, but I was running away from death, wasn't
I? I was running toward life. And there was Mr. Electrico sitting on the
platform out in front of the carnival and I didn't know what to say. I was
scared of making a fool of myself. I had a magic trick in my pocket, one of
those little ball-and-vase tricks-a little container that had a ball in it
that you make disappear and reappear-and I got that out and asked, Can you
show me how to do this? It was the right thing to do. It made a contact. He
knew he was talking to a young magician. He took it, showed me how to do it,
gave it back to me, then he looked at my face and said, Would you like to
meet those people in that tent over there? Those strange people? And I said,
Yes sir, I would. So he led me over there and he hit the tent with his cane
and said, Clean up your language! Clean up your language! He took me in, and
the first person I met was the illustrated man. Isn't that wonderful? The
Illustrated Man! He called himself the tattooed man, but I changed his name
later for my book. I also met the strong man, the fat lady, the trapeze
people, the dwarf, and the skeleton. They all became characters.
Mr. Electrico was a beautiful man, see, because he knew that he had a little
weird kid there who was twelve years old and wanted lots of things. We walked
along the shore of Lake Michigan and he treated me like a grown-up. I talked
my big philosophies and he talked his little ones. Then we went out and sat
on the dunes near the lake and all of a sudden he leaned over and said, I'm
glad you're back in my life. I said, What do you mean? I don't know you. He
said, You were my best friend outside of Paris in 1918. You were wounded in
the Ardennes and you died in my arms there. I'm glad you're back in the
world. You have a different face, a different name, but the soul shining out
of your face is the same as my friend. Welcome back.
Now why did he say that? Explain that to me, why? Maybe he had a dead son,
maybe he had no sons, maybe he was lonely, maybe he was an ironical jokester.
Who knows? It could be that he saw the intensity with which I live. Every
once in a while at a book signing I see young boys and girls who are so full
of fire that it shines out of their face and you pay more attention to that.
Maybe that's what attracted him.
When I left the carnival that day I stood by the carousel and I watched the
horses running around and around to the music of "Beautiful Ohio," and I
cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew something important had happened
to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. He gave me
importance, immortality, a mystical gift. My life was turned around
completely. It makes me cold all over to think about it, but I went home and
within days I started to write. I've never stopped.
Seventy-seven years ago, and I've remembered it perfectly. I went back and
saw him that night. He sat in the chair with his sword, they pulled the
switch, and his hair stood up. He reached out with his sword and touched
everyone in the front row, boys and girls, men and women, with the
electricity that sizzled from the sword. When he came to me, he touched me on
the brow, and on the nose, and on the chin, and he said to me, in a whisper,
"Live forever." And I decided to.
Monday, May 9, 2011
A Borrowed lyric
(for Frank Longley)
"Life is just a bowl of cherries,
don't take it serious,
you'll be delirious."
I told the old man
I never go to funerals,
"You work you slave
you worry so, but you can't
take it with you
when you go, go, go.
He looked at me with
sad eyes and said,
"When you get to be my age
you better get your suit pressed."
The next day one of my
best friend died.
"The best things in life,
for you are just loaned
you can't keep what
you've never owned.
Just keep believing
it's the berries,
and live and laugh
at it all."
at 4:48 AM
Saturday, May 7, 2011
For the last few days I have been haunting my recently deceased co-worker Frank Longley's cubicle. Noticing things like an un-eaten apple, post notes with numbers, a
time stamp machine that never ceases clicking off the minutes, and then this
morning I come upon a poem featured on "Writer's Almanac." Sometimes poetry
says all that needs to be said.
In the Museum of Your Last Day
by Patrick Phillips
there is a coat on a coat hook in a hall. Work-gloves
in the pockets, pliers and bent nails.
There is a case of Quaker State for the Ford.
Two cans of spray paint in a crisp brown bag.
A mug on a book by the hi-fi.
A disk that starts on its own: Boccherini.
There is a dent in the soap the shape of your thumb.
A swirl in the glass when it fogs.
And a gray hair that twines
through the tines of a little black comb.
There is a watch laid smooth on a wallet.
And pairs of your shoes everywhere.
A phone no one answers. A note that says Friday.
Your voice on the tape talking softly.
at 5:00 AM
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole.
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul...
William Ernest Henley "Invictus"
(for Frank Longley)
The first thing I noticed about him
Were his arms, big muscled, hairy
Arms digging through boxes of office files.
Not the kind of job you'd expect
A man like him to have.
After all, he played All-State football,
Ran with the bulls in Spain,
Sailed a home-made raft
Down the Mississippi to New Orleans,
Been 'around the world and back.
But at 50 he decided to marry,
Have a child, which he would worship,
And become a bureaucrat, but not really.
Like the old sea captain, whose picture
Hung proudly on his office wall,
He was captain of his own ship,
Unafraid of the darkness that waits for
at 12:54 AM